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Sunrise into Sunset


A man is born, he lives and, at some point, he dies.

At best he can expect to live with honor, to fight with courage, to father children and die in dignity.

We raise and enrich our children with these qualities, for the future is beyond our vision.

To us we take a wife. This woman is to love, to treat with dignity and hold fast throughout life.

To live with joy and peace, gather unto you only that which is necessary. Waste destroys harmony.

In our creation, we borrow a modest amount of earth and water. One day these elements will be surrendered.

The Sound of Slicks

I never had a particularly good feeling when hearing slicks (Hueys) especially the old 2 blade rotors. Of course, I was never a grunt wanting out of a bad place & waiting for that sound to help me.

I rode them. We had them working our firebases to help repel Charlies. Had gunships overhead late at night with miniguns plowing the banana scrubs around us. They’ve helped us by quelling mortar fire when we were required to fire support for somebody in trouble. Got lots of reason to thank them and I do.

When I got home and heard slicks my chest just kinda shrank-up inside. The only reason I can think of is that I associate that whump-whump with something bad happening.

Operation Speedy Express

9th ID commander Major General Julian Ewell (1968-69) initiated operations like Operation Speedy Express which stressed killing as many VC/NVA as possible with overwhelming force. Op Speedy later came under fire by the press because of the low kill to weapon ration (accused of killing a lot of civilians).

Huge free fire zones helped to boost the VC/NVA kill ratio to American KIA of 134:1 in April 1969. A quote of Gen Ewell was, “the hearts and minds approach can be overdone….in the delta the only way to overcome VC control and terror is with brute force applied against the VC”

A reputable officer, Col. David Hackworth, was a battalion commander during Speedy Express, according to him, “a lot of innocent Vietnamese civilians got slaughtered because of the Ewell-Hunt (Ira Hunt, CoS) drive to have the highest count in the land.” Hackworth added that “the 9th Division had the lowest weapons-captured-to-enemy-killed ratio in Vietnam.”

There were very few limits placed on those in contact and contact was encouraged.  From privates to gunships, Forward Observers and anyone with the power to kill a Vietnamese, all were free to blast away. The unofficial goal of the 9th was to kill 1000 enemy per week.  That goal was sustained as long as Ewell was the commander.

Op Speedy Express alone accounted for 10,889 enemy KIA (December 1968 – May 11, 1969). If Ewell had not been promoted to II Field Force CO, he might well have completely depopulated the Delta.  Well, that’s one way to do it.

“To absent friends and fallen comrades, and all the others who died that others might live.”

The US Military motto’s:

1. Army: “This We’ll Defend”

2. Coast Guard: “Semper Paratus” (Always Prepared)

3. Navy: “Non sibi sed patriae” (Not Self, but Country)

4. Marine Corps: “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful)

5. Air Force: “Aim High…Fly, Fight, Win”

Homestead Poison

wasp   black widow

velvet tail   tarantula-10


In all the houses we have lived in all the commodes have been towards a corner. Every corner above the crapper has always housed a spider. Many years ago I would always kill the spider. Then I decided to just leave the damn thing because if I killed them another set-up house in a couple of days. I started aggravating them by blowing their web or flipping water from my fingers at them. I noticed the older they get the less they run.

Somewhere in time I started talking to them. I talked mostly in my mind or whispered so no one would think I was nuts. Our kids say I’m warped a little anyhow as I have always talked to the animals around us (and chickens or pet birds). This one-way conversation has lasted quite some time now.

Tonight I was taking a leak & looked at the current corner resident. There was an early mosquito sitting next to the spiders nest. It flew away as I watched. Lowly I whispered to the spider, “What good are you if can’t even catch a mosquito…worthless little bastard.”

He’s getting on in days…a bit old & slower, so I only half meant it. But as I watched the eight legged bugger, it slowly lifted on spider foot to me and whispered back, “Go screw yourself you old bastard.” I swear that spider foot looked like he flashed me the bird. I don’t mind a talking spider as much as a sassy one. I put the mouthy little mass of legs on notice.

My corner spiders are not poison. We have a few brown recluse (fiddle back) around. There are black widows in the woods & around the barn. There are several tarantulas but I rarely see them.

We do have plenty of is rattlesnakes. They are timber rattlesnakes sometimes called velvet tipped. There is a year round creek on the west side of our place. I didn’t know till we already lived here that the old-times called this place “Rattlesnake crossing”. I really don’t know how many of them I killed in the yard. Largest one was a full 8 feet long. Still have his skin.

Then there are wasps. Our little cedar sided house draws them for miles around. They are everywhere.

With all the poison & venom around here I had to make a real change so I didn’t constantly worry about getting bit, stung or otherwise injected. I started to just ignore all of them. As time has gone on it has worked pretty well.

In fact none of them has tried to chase me down. Even the wads of wasp pay little attention if I go slow by them. My son killed two copperheads & one rattlesnake in the yard a year ago but none of their relatives have come down on me in a blood feud…yet.

The Delta

delta m60Kaplan_Rice-VietNam

A soldier carrying his gun above his head as he is submerged. Mekong Delta. 1968 Copyright Henri Huet AP

The Mekong Delta was a strange place. A big place. The only Infantry was the 9th & ARVN’s. We went around building firebases all the time, fire for a bit & turn them over to the ARVN troops. We never had the troops to cover the whole Delta but they had us dodging around all over the place. Whenever there were no operations, we fired H&I into big free-fire zones.

On firebase Schroeder we caught & repelled a major attack one night. I read a later news article that the ARVN’s we gave it to were overrun one night & everybody (ARVN’s often had their family with them) was killed down to the kids.

We were all the way down to the U Mihn forest once but normally in a great big semi-circle around Dong Tam. We fired in support of the boats a great deal. I remember the big Riverine air boats working rice paddies for Charlies under water breathing through straws. The huge fans under the boat would literally blow them out of the water. An M60 on the back took them out.